Sunday, November 23, 2014

Show Car Sunday returns after a long hiatus!

Here we see the final result of Project Ajax.
This car is a mountain range in Italy. This car is a pimp who was framed with stolen furs and thrown in prison. This car, ladies and gentlemen, is Dolomite.
A 1980 Triumph Dolomite Sprint that is! In the mid-'60s Triumph launched Project Ajax, which was the automakers name for a new line of small cars. These included the underpowered 1300, the slightly better 1500, and the Toledo. The 1300 and 1500 were both front wheel drive, but the Toledo had the more traditional rear wheel drive layout of the Triumph Herald which the Ajax line replaced.
It is true that this spelling is not the same as the classic Rudy Ray Moore character Dolemite, but it is also true that Blaxploitation flicks from the mid-'70s have provided me with some of the greatest movie quotes of all time. I'll just leave this line from Wikipedia which happens to be the 3rd out of 3 total sentences summarizing the Plot: "However, Dolemite is no stupid man and has a lot of "warriors" backing him, such as his call girls, who are karate experts, and many more."
This beautiful little ride was roosting next to the entrance to the Pulaski Bridge linking Greenpoint to Long Island City, and it has no business being here at all! Unfortunately for us the Dolomite was never imported to the States when new.
It sure is a tidy little car though; plenty of room for your mohawk or fedora with that tall roofline, nicely proportioned throughout, and loaded with subtle styling cues that are so much more classy than the iron America was cranking out in that lowliest of design years.
To me this car looks coiled up and ready to pounce! The slight curve to the roof is mimicked on the hood and trunk line to give the sense of motion.
Check out that line that starts at the front of the rear wheel well before fading back into the quarter panel; a very cool detail also suggesting speed. This car is so perfect that I feel compelled to point out the only damage I could find; the chrome trim that ought to frame the lower portion of the vinyl roof is missing from this side, and the rear door doesn't seem to be adjusted correctly as illustrated by the upper door trim not synching with the quarter panel section. Miniscule things of course that only attest to the impossibly beautiful presentation of this 34 years old British mid-market car.
The rear panel is flat black and set in a bit from the edge of the trunk, and the whole piece is framed in chrome giving it a clean look. These thin bumpers are so elegant compared to the federally mandated monstrosities that were hanging off of the Detroit rides of this era.
The nameplate is very 1980. It seems to be sporting the original Euro license plate from its homeland.
The rear window is also set in from the edge of the roofline like the rear panel, giving the overall design a nice consistency. Those barely noticeable holes under the roof overhang must be a part of the fresh air ventilation system.
Something they offered for many European automakers over the decades was the extra large sliding canvas sunroof. I had a '63 Beetle for a while that had one and it was the greatest compromise between hardtop and convertible.
Again the Brits are laughing at our use of cheap plastic and vinyl while they install actual wood in the dashboard and door trim of even the more basic rides.
This little Sprint must be fun to drive with the 4 speed manual trans. The Sprint was a serious upgrade to the standard Dolomite, with a 1998cc straight-4 cylinder motor that was the first production car in the world to have 4 valves per cylinder. In addition the suspension was lowered and brakes upgraded. This car was a direct attack on the BMW 2002 Tii which cost over a thousand pounds more. The factory brags that this little cruiser could hit a top speed of 119mph!

I believe this is the original factory color Carmine Red.
These sweet little alloy wheels are the factory originals for the Sprint. The fact that the plastic spoiler is still attached to the front makes me feel that this thing must live in a garage.
Well there we have it; an extra tough, extra cool little cruiser giving 4-doors a good name. These cars are extremely rare anywhere in the world as a mere 493 were built in 1980, which is also the last year they were produced. Coming across one in Greenpoint is just amazing! With the rarity, eager split-grill look, and genuinely sporty underpinnings this is one car I would love to take out on some mountain roads.
*Special note to my 7 or so readers: Obviously the blog output has been meager lately due to me being busy at work, and out of town during my free time, but the cars are still collecting in my phone. If the offerings are scarce now rest assured that there will be plenty of hoopties waiting in the wings for the dead of winter.

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